The Kolumba Museum in Cologne, Germany, is a masterful design by Peter Zumthor that delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church.
The museum is a testament to Peter Zumthor’s skillful use of materials and his ability to create an immersive environment that invites introspection and contemplation. The museum's design delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church, respecting the site's history and preserving its essence. Zumthor's use of grey brick unites the destroyed fragments of the site, including stone ruins from the Roman and medieval periods and a chapel for the "Madonna of the Ruins" designed by German architect Gottfried Böhm in 1950.
The grey brick façade integrates the remnants of the church's façade into a new contemporary museum. Articulated with perforations, the brickwork allows diffused light to fill specific spaces of the museum. The perforations in the walls filter in light and air while slim columns support the new roof. The Kolumba Museum comprises 16 different exhibition rooms and a secret garden courtyard, a quiet and secluded place for reflection. The materials used in the overall design play an essential role, and Zumthor searched extensively for the perfect material, ultimately handcrafting the bricks in Denmark.
Zumthor’s design adopts the outline of the former church building, and was conceived as a continuation of what was previously on the plot. The largest space of the museum encompasses the site’s subterranean ruins which date back thousands of years. The museum is an excellent example of how history and contemporary design can exist in harmony, providing a powerful and reflective space for visitors to immerse themselves in.